Goodnight Moon: I’m the Old Lady Whispering Hush

If you read Goodnight Moon as a child, you’ll find a room full of wonder. There are kittens playing, a mouse scurrying about. There is the picture of the cow jumping over the moon, and there is stargazing from a cozy bed.

When you read it as an adult, you probably know that it’s one of the most popular children’s books and that it is known as a literary piece of art. Though I agree, I think it’s also so. much. more. (And in fact, much simpler than what it might seem at first.)

If you’re a parent, this story will sound very familiar. This little bunny just doesn’t want to sleep. He puts it off in every way possible for one very long hour.

Little bunny is a handful. If you’ve read Runaway Bunny, you know the imagination and energy this little bunny has. He’s a little rascal. Goodnight Moon is no exception–

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of — The cow jumping over the moon

And, and, and…

The little bunny’s eyes just can’t stop.

On the first page we see him sitting in his bed looking at the telephone (the first thing listed) and the list keeps going, until he’s listed just about everything of importance in that little green room.

Tonight as I read the book to my own little girls, I noticed something very important about the illustrations — the clock. Have you ever looked closely enough to notice the hands on the clock or the moon rising? Quite a bit of time passes in this short little story while the bunny is saying good night.

On the first page it’s 7:00pm. It’s bedtime (the bunny is sitting in bed), but the lights are on.

On the next colored page it’s 7:10pm and we’re shown the chair where the old lady will eventually sit, but she’s not there, only her knitting is there. I like to think she’s tucking the little bunny in to bed.

After the list of things in the room has concluded, (the page right after we’re shown the old lady whispering “hush”), it’s already 7:20pm.

Have you noticed the old lady whispering “hush”? As a parent I can totally identify with her. How many times do I yell at my 4-year-old to, “PLEASE BE QUIET AND GO BACK TO BED!”? — It’s a lot. Well, apparently, so does the mama bunny (except she’s whispering — I imagine a loud whisper and a strong HUSH).

The old lady is knitting in her chair, the lights are off, except the little night light on the bedside table, and the little bunny begins to say goodnight.

As the little bunny says goodnight to absolutely everything in his room, he climbs out of bed to turn around and look at his pictures– “good night bears, good night chairs.” Then on the next page that we see him, he’s sitting in his bed, untucked, and looking around at the room — “good night clocks, and good night socks.” Next, he’s turned to look at his bedside table — “good night comb and good night brush.” By this time, it’s already 7:50pm. This little bunny has been awake for 50 minutes after mama bunny first put him into bed. Or to be generous — 40 minutes since she tucked him in.

I definitely wouldn’t be whispering hush at this point. That little bunny would probably get some slightly-more-frustrated words from me.

His mind is racing. His eyes are darting all over the room. He’s full of energy, he’s climbing out of bed, he’s doing everything except lying his furry little head on the pillow, and his mama just wants him to sleep.

Can anyone relate? *every mom ever raises her hand*

“Mom, I need a glass of water!”
“Ummm, mommyyyy, I just wanted to say I love you.”
“Moooooommmyyyyyyy, I’m huuuuungry.” (Bowl full of mush, anyone?)
“Mommy! I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! Umm… I forgot.”

Finally the bunny is back in bed and he says, “good night to the old lady whispering ‘hush,'” and I can only assume that he’s looked as much as a bunny can look at everything in his room, so he gets back around to mama bunny to say good night and she whispers loudly again for him to HUSH.

Mama bunny is so done. Look how her knitting is all collected. Kittens are no longer playing with the knitting. They’re looking longingly at her, but she’s having none of it. She means serious business. “Listen, little bunny. I finished my knitting and I’m tired and I want to go to bed. You need to HUSH and go to sleep!” He knows she means business so he lies down, gets cozy in his covers, and his eyes wander to the window — “good night stars, good night air,”

“good night noises everywhere” — and he’s out.

FINALLY. This bunny is asleep. An hour later. That’s right. Take a look at the clock. It’s now 8:10pm.

Oh mama bunny, I totally get it. I’ve had my fair share of late nights and my own little bunnies with wandering eyes and big imaginations. Bed time is exhausting. But know that you’re not alone.

Who knew that this little classic children’s book could also be a salute to parents everywhere, a holding-hands-in-solidarity as parents of young children are in the trenches together. It says, “I see you, mama (and daddy), you’re so not alone.”

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